So, it’s the summer of 2015 and my running buddy, Malin Barton, says to me “Check out this race Joey, I think it would be fun”. I now know when Marlin Barton say’s “This will be fun”, what she really means is “This will probably kill us”.
The third edition of the SRT Run/Hike took place September 16-17, 2016 with 102 starters across all divisions, up from 82 the year before. A remarkable 92% of starters successfully completed the course this year — a surprising statistic for a minimalist format event which provides little or no aid or course markings. Excluding the dauntingly difficult 70-mile division, the success rate for the other divisions was almost 97%. Besides the inevitable scrapes and bruises, there were no injuries during the event, and no-one got lost. The runners deserve credit for showing up prepared to navigate on their own and manage their hydration and nutritional needs — exactly the spirit of mindfulness and self-reliance we sought to promote in creating this event. And perhaps it’s the case that the magical beauty of the Shawangunk Mountains imparts extra energy to those who move through the wilderness…
Anyone who’s spent time wandering in the Shawangunks during springtime has witnessed the mountain-laurel in bloom. But now that it was late June, the laurel flowers would have already come and gone, or so I thought as I headed out to cross the ridge…
In a post last fall, I shared a photograph taken from the summit of Twin Mountain and made the point that after years of admiring the Catskills from the vantage of the Shawangunks, I had for the first time made the reverse connection.
Last weekend I returned to Twin Mountain, but this time with my friend Steve Aaron, who is a talented landscape photographer. And this time I saw something new….
Saturday, April 23, 2016, I was running with friends in the Sam’s Point section of Minnewaska State Park, descending from High Point toward the Verkeerderkill Falls, when we spotted a distant plume of smoke. We paused and watched as the smoke billowed up from a small patch of ground and then caught the wind, blowing away to the south, then shifting back towards us. Was the trail blocked? We couldn’t tell, but thought it best to turn back.
Two days later, what had started as a pin-prick was now threatening 2,000 acres, and Rock The Ridge race director Todd Jennings and I were forced to consider an emergency re-route of the course — with only five days until the start. The problem wasn’t that the flames would threaten the runners, but rather that Minnewaska State Park was closed while the staff worked around the clock with 300 firefighters, rangers, and volunteers to contain the blaze. Hosting a race at the same time didn’t seem possible. But with two days to go, we got word that Minnewaska had approved us to proceed with the original course, even if the park was still closed. And then it rained, and the fire went out. Todd and I salute the staff for protecting thousands of acres of beautiful land and managing hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. It’s an incredibly important job, and there’s nothing easy about it.
To learn something new, take the path you took yesterday.
— John Burroughs
The week-long holiday break was time well spent with family, friends, and new acquaintances, relaxing, talking, celebrating, eating, drinking, hiking, and running.
And I was able to fit in one run that was a little longer than average and extra special: a 42-mile circumnavigation of the Northern Shawangunks, on roads that parallel and then cross over the mountains. To make life interesting, I brought no food or water.
I hadn’t been out to Gertrude’s Nose in many years, so I jumped at the opportunity to join Hudson Valley photographer Steve Aaron on a hike, and of course, Odie the Labradoodle was eager to come, too. In fact, when I hopped in the car to run an errand (I was going to come back and get him), Odie was so upset, he cried and howled. So Odie came with me on the errand, and then we headed off to Minnewaska State Park Preserve and the trail to Gertrude’s Nose.
We are incredibly proud to announce the winners of the 2015 Long Path Race Series! We call these winners “Disciples of the Long Brown Path,” in a nod to the memorial plaque for Raymond Torrey, one of the Trail Conference’s founders and an early promoter of both the Appalachian Trail and the Long Path.
Created and maintained by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, the Long Path is an incredible 350-mile hiking trail that reaches from New York City to the outskirts of Albany, along the way traversing some of New York’s most beautiful natural parks and preserves, including the New Jersey Palisades, Harriman State Park, Schunemunk Mountain, the Shawangunk Mountains, the Catskills, and the Helderberg Escarpment.
Upon reaching a mountain peak, one may be rewarded with a sweeping vision of the land, assuming the weather is clear, something that in times past would have helped chart a course through the wilderness. But even today, when maps and GPS all but eliminate the practical value, we still experience special feelings when reaching a vantage point: surprise at the immensity of the landscape, joy in making distant connections, wonder at new sight lines, reverence for nature, humility, awe. In certain cultures, climbing mountains is part of a quest for spiritual vision.
Here’s a race report from Kevin Russell, one of the 74-mile particpants in the recent SRT race, which takes place along the Shawangunk Ridge Trail. Kevin’s lively story features field-expedient shoe repair, a porcupine, bushwhacking, and rock scrambles. Thanks for sharing, Kevin!